Why Humans Outlive Apes: Human Genes Have Adapted to Inflammation, but We Are More Susceptible to Diseases of Aging

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A baby chimp (Pan troglodytes) and his handler looking at each other.

In spite of their genetic similarity to humans, chimpanzees and great apes have maximum lifespans that rarely exceed 50 years. The difference, explains USC Davis School of Gerontology Professor Caleb Finch, is that as humans evolved genes that enabled them to better adjust to levels of infection and inflammation and to the high cholesterol levels of their meat rich diets.

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